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Topic: Do you need the pricey gear to get the most out of your music?  (Read 620 times) previous topic - next topic
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Do you need the pricey gear to get the most out of your music?

Hi all, hoping some of you experts can offer some sage advice. I was in the audio game back in 2016 by 2017 i was sort of burnt out and decided to leave. Now it's 2021 and I'm back in again. There are so much more choices now for iem, over head headphones, portable players and etc. I watched a bunch of reviews and it seems to me that there aren't many "bad" IEM/Headphones, instead they are now "tuned to have different sound signatures". I know most reviewers get their samples from manufactures so they can't really say anything substantially bad about them but it seems that all reviews end in the same way, the higher price (gear) always wins. I rarely see see reviewers compare something in the 1k/1K+ to something that's in the $500 range. It's always either in the same 1K range or higher. If i was looking to move up, it would be very hard for me to decide if the extra amount is actual worth the increase in price. The reviewers always make it sound like it's a night and day difference.

Recently I got the IBasso DX160 and it has terrible battery life, outside of that I'm pretty okay with it as a player. This got me wondering, if a DX160 sounds good (to me anyway) how much better would a 1K or 1K+ player have to be to cost that much? Am I missing out that much more "music" because my player cost much less? How much am I paying for the materials vs the actual quality of music that it produces? I'm now looking at the Plenue R2 since it lists 20 hours of music playback.

not to long ago there was some hype around the DUNU studio SA6, i found a store that had them and I tried them and didn't like them, they cost more but i didn't find them to sound as good as the Final Audio A4000. Maybe I'm more used to the A4000 or my hearing is shot, I don't know

okay, I've rambled enough, i guess my question is, am I missing out on my music by not getting higher price gear? I always feel like i am whenever I watch reviews. I have the W40, Final Audio A4000, Final Audio B2 and i prefer the Final Audio A4000 more for the sound. The W40 fits better though.  Do I need to have a 1K DAP and 1K IEM/Headphone before i can get the most out of my music (which is everything but orchestra)



 

Re: Do you need the pricey gear to get the most out of your music?

Reply #1
Beyond the point, reached fairly easily, money wise, the gear provides emotional support, pretty much irrelevant as far as the music itself goes. Some things are easy to ABX. Different headphones sound somewhat different from each other. Speakers sound different than headphones. Unless the headphones/speakers/electronics are quite poor, which are better than others is a subjective viewpoint.

If you can listen to something like a string quartet in a good environment with no intervening electronics you will hear something that no playback equipment can reproduce exactly. It can be fun to play with pretty equipment while you (maybe yes or may no) listen to your music.

Re: Do you need the pricey gear to get the most out of your music?

Reply #2
Quote
the higher price (gear) always wins

Bigger is better isn't it  :D

This is what I call listening with the eyes.
You hear what you see and of course a $10.000 makes short work of a $1000 one.

But instead of listening with the eyes, you might simply measure the performance
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?reviews/

TheWellTemperedComputer.com

Re: Do you need the pricey gear to get the most out of your music?

Reply #3
If you can listen to something like a string quartet in a good environment with no intervening electronics you will hear something that no playback equipment can reproduce exactly.

There are moments I miss that silly LIKE button.
TheWellTemperedComputer.com

Re: Do you need the pricey gear to get the most out of your music?

Reply #4
For portable players there's likely no audible difference unless it "has trouble" with lower impedance headphones, or unless it can't go loud enough for you.

Even cheap audio DACs are usually better than human hearing and a "little amplifier" to drive headphones/IEMs is also cheap to make.    (For a few-hundred dollars you can get an amplifier with a few-hundred watts, or even a home theater receiver with a few-hundred watts, surround decoders, a remote control, and all of that stuff, and of course sound that's better than human hearing.)

Transducers (speakers, headphones, IEMs) make the biggest difference.

Quote
I watched a bunch of reviews and it seems to me that there aren't many "bad" IEM/Headphones,
That's tricky business...      They are hard to measure because of the way they interact with the ear so specs are virtually useless.   And, preferences and opinions vary.    So, you just have to listen for yourself.    And the only "real difference" in sound quality is frequency response and you can adjust that with EQ!/b]

Quote
I know most reviewers get their samples from manufactures so they can't really say anything substantially bad about them but it seems that all reviews end in the same way, the higher price (gear) always wins. I rarely see see reviewers compare something in the 1k/1K+ to something that's in the $500 range. It's always either in the same 1K range or higher.
I agree.  It's frustrating and they'll almost never come-out and say a cheaper one sounds better than a more expensive one. and it seems like nobody does blind listening tests.

I don't know much about the IEM market but you can get some very-good headphones in the $200 - $300 range and I don't see why good IEMs should cost more than that.   And again, you can adjust the sound with EQ.

Re: Do you need the pricey gear to get the most out of your music?

Reply #5
$1k for IEMs, that's a lot. I have electrostatic headsets and I have Etymotic ER-4's (listed at $349, but shop around for <200), and I got reasonably close to the latter quality-wise by $30 AKG's (but they didn't last that long).

$100 for IEMs will get you very far - but there is a big and very noticeable difference to loudspeakers, in that you won't get the physical sound pressure. (Oh, some try to rig a gaming chair up with a subwoofer up their ass for the best of both worlds.)

As for loudspeakers ... I am playing on $10k gear (same active speakers as fifteen years ago), but if I want a decent-looking frequency response curve, I would actually need to get myself a new home. Which will make a big difference - in one direction or the other. 
But not likely a crucial difference for enjoyment. I am so used to live concerts in random locations with all sorts of bass artifacts. If live music is the real thing, then they are effectively part of it, and I am pretty well wired to enjoy without bothering so much about it.

Maybe this gives you some perspectives: you can go from $100 to $1000 on IEMs but you still won't get the physical sound pressure; you can go from $1000 to $10000 on amp/speakers and you still will depend on your room; you can move from a $100k home to a $3million home and that still does not come with Springsteen or Metallica live.
(My, I miss live shows. Fuck that virus.)

High Voltage socket-nose-avatar

Re: Do you need the pricey gear to get the most out of your music?

Reply #6
I don't have room for a home stereo system else I would invest in some nice speakers and stuff. My portable dap and IEM/Headphone acts as my home stereo system. So I've been trying to figure out if I should be investing more money into my gear or not. Would I get more "music" out of it. I don't mind spending the money, just making sure that I'm getting actually noticeable improvement for that money. Not a slight increase or bump. I don't want to spend 10x more for a 5 percent increase.

Re: Do you need the pricey gear to get the most out of your music?

Reply #7
I don't want to spend 10x more for a 5 percent increase.

Stay off the thousand dollars gear then.

Consider whether you are so much on the move in noisy environments that you want to pay for active noise cancelling. That could certainly make a big difference.
High Voltage socket-nose-avatar

Re: Do you need the pricey gear to get the most out of your music?

Reply #8
Pre-pandemic, one of my favorite pastimes was visiting stereo shops with my favorite CD in hand. Whenever I find myself in a new place, I look up the local shops and see if there's anything exceptional they sell. Sadly, there are fewer and fewer places where people can go to audition speakers. I'm a big believer in hearing speakers before I buy them. As well, I've often gotten to listen to setups I could never afford. I just make sure I don't monopolise and keep the staff from making sales, since I'm only kicking tires. As well, most of my gear I bought used after hearing it new. My very first speakers were a pair of Quad 57's that I heard in a place called Boutique Of Sound, and the salesman put on some Alan Parson, which just blew me away. Never been the same since.  Fortunately, a little later I found a used pair that needed repair for a good price.  :)

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  ;~)

 
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